“Where the Fun Begins”

“I’ll bring the venison!” That was my one-line acting debut/finale. The year was 1976 and I was in the 2nd grade play at the Calvert School in Baltimore. It’s not like I had to try out and “won” my hard-earned role. Participation was mandatory and the teacher, perhaps sensing my lack of stage presence, gave me that single line. For the record, I nailed it. The weeks of trying out different inflections and stressing out about the whole experience paid off. Well, not the stressing out part but definitely the practice. 

I don’t remember much about the play other than it was a William Tell-like story. Hence my line — someone probably shot lunch with a bow and arrow. The worst part of the whole ordeal was having to go with my dad to some girly store on Cold Spring Lane to buy dark green tights. Oh the humiliation! (remember this was way before men started wearing spandex).

I thought about all of this recently because the inaugural act of my vacation — following a post-Sunday service nap — was to bring the family to a community theater presentation put on by Hull Performing Arts. The three act play titled “Where the Fun Begins” tells the story of the heyday and demise of the old Paragon Park. Like so many beach resorts of yore, there is a history in Hull. After a long run, the park closed for good in 1984. The only vestige today is the vintage carousel that still operates every summer. It wasn’t until after the show that I learned my mother-in-law now lives in a condo on the very spot where Paragon Park used to stand!

View from Fort Revere

What was so much fun for me — beside the fact that it took place on a gorgeous afternoon at Fort Revere Park — was that so many people from St. John’s were involved with the production. The unfairly talented Cinzi Lavin, one of our choir section leaders, wrote the musical and played keyboards during it. The whole Clinton family was involved — Lindsay directed it, David was a police officer and general announcements guy, Charlie played a pickpocket, and Aly sang and danced in several numbers. Three Loves were involved — Jennifer stole the show as the evil villainess, Spencer had a pretty major role as the young Sully singing and dancing away in the early acts, and Elijah took my donation at the door and served as stage manager. Sandy Baker, another choir member, sang in the chorus. Oh, and our fabulous neighbor Sarah Dewey led the way with about five costume changes.

Our neighbor Sarah

I should say a brief word about Jennifer. I used to think that, in the words of Jimmy Buffett, “There’s a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.” After hearing Jennifer sing angelically in our choir on Sunday morning and then seeing her in the role of an evil drug dealer later that afternoon, that thin line seems to be even thinner! Though as Cinzi told me afterwards, “The nicest people make the best villains.” True enough.

It’s amazing when you see people you know in other situations sharing unkown (to me) gifts! Given my own anemic acting experience I’m always blown away to see other people standing up in front of a crowd and doing their thing. Sure, you could argue that this is precisely what I do every Sunday morning. But it’s different. I’m not acting and I have the ultimate stage director behind me. Plus, I have the Book of Common Prayer to keep me from ad libbing.

If you’re local, I’d encourage you to go the production. It’s playing next weekend as well at Fort Revere Park — July 30th and 31st at 4:00 pm. Bring the family, a picnic, and enjoy!


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